African American University Presidents Return from Israel
NEW YORK -- A delegation of five African American university presidents from historically dominantly black universities recently returned from a ten-day tour of Israel.
The purpose of the mission was threefold: to develop relationships between black and Israeli institutions of higher education, to learn about modern Israel and the Middle East, and to visit Israel's rich array of historic and religious sites. By all accounts, these objectives were achieved.
Members of the delegation said they gained a deeper understanding of the political and security issues which they found to be more complex than they originally thought. They also said that the trip had reaffirmed their determination to seek closer ties with Jewish members within their resident communities.
In a continuing effort to broaden international awareness and build bridges of understanding among African Americans, the State of Israel and the Jewish community, the delegation met with the highest level of Israeli statesmen including President of Israel Ezer Weizman, former Prime Minister and Nobel Prize laureate, Shimon Peres and Member of Knesset Binyamin Begin, a leader in the Likud party and son of the late Prime Minister Menachem Begin.
Representatives from Israeli universities in Jerusalem, tel Aviv and Be'er Sheva discussed future possibilities of developing student and faculty exchange programs, as well as establishing contact between parallel departments in black and Israeli universities.
This is the fifth mission of African American university presidents to visit the State of Israel. The program began in 1988. Previous missions have resulted in programs which enabled fifty black college students to visit Israel and distinguished Israeli faculty to tour black universities, and multiple Israeli cultural festivals. This year's mission was co- sponsored by The College Fund UNCF, the American-Israel League and the Office of Academic Affairs in the USA of the State of Israel.
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